Trends The season of modelling contests is here. What are the changes on the fashion scene today and how do you get ahead? Asha Chowdary finds out from experts
What does it take to sashay down the catwalk under a sea of glittering lights? This is the question that many youngsters ask every year, usually between the months of August and September when model hunts and talent searches are underway. Many young people who realize that being a model is no longer a hobby to dabble in but a serious career to pursue, take these competitions very seriously and work hard to make the grade and eventually make it to the top.
Bangalore, the city that was once home to India’s best models who went on to become Bollywood superstars, is known as a cutting edge training ground for models even today. But where, it was once a place reserved only for those who were good looking and super skinny, the arena is now open to driven and committed young people who know how to make the best of the assets that they possess. So whenever a model hunt comes along, contestants are in plenty, because most youngsters know that extraordinary talent and style goes a long way.
Fashion guru, Prasad Bidapa finds that there has been a sea change in the modelling scene today. “In the 70s modelling was a pastime and Bangalore always produced the best models and Miss India title holders. It was more a fun thing we did on weekends. Now it’s very professional and models are busy all week,” he says.
Zoheb Yusuf, one of the directors of Bidapa’s modelling agency which holds the Megamodel Hunt every year to find talented young people, says, “South India has always been famous for producing some of the best models. We have good educational institutions in Bangalore and students from all over the country and abroad come here to study. Most of the models start off their modelling careers from college and take it forward professionally. I have noticed that the kids from Bangalore are well well groomed which makes them presentable too.”
But with the changing modelling scene it is also important for youngsters to keep up with the new trends in the industry.
Says Sheetal Sharma, events director, “Many things have changed on the scene now. For instance, nowadays models need to project their individual styles on the catwalk which is why there is no need for them to walk a certain way on the ramps. Designers prefer different kinds of walking styles today.”
Sheetal also finds that these days, being gorgeous will not ensure a top slot in the modelling arena. “As long as you are tall and can carry off makeup, being beautiful is not a criterion anymore,” she says.
Another change in the industry is the fact that models don’t wait around for things to happen to them. They take matters into their own hands. “The kids today are far more focused than those in the past,” explains Sheetal, and adds, “From a young age they know what they want and go out to get it. They use Facebook and other social media to get ahead. Earlier young models would wait around for a model co-ordinator to call them to Mumbai. Today, kids make their own calls, move to bigger cities faster and get on with their professions instead of hanging around in Bangalore forever. They don’t give up their education though. I often advice them that the profession is short lived and that good breaks may or may not happen to them. So they have to keep their options open.”
Life as a model is far from easy though and it needs a lot of tenacity to hang on. Says M.S. Sreedhar, director, choreographer and fashion consultant, “Today over 30 per cent of models on the ramp are foreigners, because of the country’s obsession with skin colour. Many young Indian models find that they have to wait very long to get paid for shows and some do not get paid at all. This is why certain models get fed up and take up other jobs. It is therefore not as lucrative a profession as it used to be, unless you get an ad campaign where there is a definite contract.”
However, none of these problems have lessened the popularity of the profession. It is still much sought after. It is important to understand the field and see if you can fit in.
“Don’t get misled by fly-by-night operators as Bangalore is full of them. People who have no experience in fashion and modelling try to hold third-rate contests, which are awful,” says Prasad.
Adds Sreedhar: “Young people love modelling and it really boosts their popularity levels. My advice to aspiring models is to keep fit and learn to become good at emoting. It is better to take acting or dance classes. It is a competitive profession on, you need to work hard to get ahead.”